SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: January 12, 2024

Episode Summary

Peacock's playoff test; More intrigue around the PGA Tour; NBA makes gains in France and NASCAR team sponsorships show signs of strength

Episode Transcription

A hat tip to my friends at Morning Brew who wrote that cutoff Patriots sweatshirts are about to become collector's items after Bill Belichick and the Patriots parted ways after 24 years. Many know I'm from Vermont, a lifelong Patriots fan. So yesterday was a tough, gut punch type of day. What a legendary run that changed the fortune of a franchise and honestly, an entire region. It's still hard to believe we won't see the hoodie lead that team and be on the sidelines. But what a week with Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, and Bill Belichick. And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, January 12th. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. It is NFL playoff weekend. Two games Saturday, three on Sunday, and one on Monday night. Let's see how the market responds Saturday as the Dolphins and Chiefs in the NFL playoffs will be on Peacock, a playoff game that will be behind the paywall for the first time.

So the question, of course, becomes how many viewers will pay to watch and the social buzz around the game. Saturday's game on Peacock, but we'll be seen in Kansas City and Miami on local NBC affiliates. Everybody else, you have to pay for a subscription. Plans start at 5.99 a month. You'll have to pay to watch the game. And of course, there'll be plenty of upset fans who realize Saturday night that the NFL is putting a playoff game behind a paywall for the first time. NBC Universal paid a reported $110 million for the rights to this playoff game. We'll see on Monday how the reaction was. I want to bring in my producer, Reggie Walker, to talk about his picks for the games this weekend. Reggie, give them to us.

Reggie Walker:

Well, I'll have to give them to you quick in the interest of time. I like the Cleveland Browns over the Texans. The Miami Dolphins over the Chiefs.

Abe Madkour:


Reggie Walker:

Buffalo Bills will beat the Steelers. The Dallas Cowboys over the Packers. Detroit Lions over the Rams. Philadelphia Eagles over Tampa Bay.

Abe Madkour:

So the big upset there, Miami over Kansas City. Reggie Walker says it there first. We won't even ask him for his long-term Super Bowl pick, but we'll continue to ask him his NFL playoff picks as the playoffs progress. Thanks, Reggie. I know we've been talking a lot about golf and there is a reason because it's a sport going through so many changes, so many challenges, yet so many opportunities. SBJ reported Thursday night that leaders in golf have their eyes on NFL Executive Brian Rolapp or former LIV Golf Executive Sean Bratches, among others to run their new for-profit PGA Tour Enterprises business. Another element to watch is house sponsors are reacting to the new PGA Tour schedule. We talked about elevated events. We talked about increased sponsorship fees for title partners. Well, longtime PGA Tour tournament sponsor Farmers Insurance became the second long-term sponsor to end its relationship with the tour, as it will not renew its title sponsorship of the San Diego event when it expires in 2026. So in a couple years.

Farmers most recently signed a seven-year extension prior to the 2018 event. They also sponsor Rickie Fowler. But last week in Hawaii, Fowler was seen without the Farmer's logo on his apparel, and he confirmed his deal was not renewed. Farmers is going through changes and in August laid off 11% of its workforce. So they are obviously re-evaluating all their costs. Now, Farmers is the second notable company to not renew with the PGA Tour. Remember, Wells Fargo opted not to extend its title sponsorship, so its deal expires this year. So it's worth watching. Because obviously, PGA Tour, title sponsors, some are taking a wait-and-see approach as negotiations with the tour, the Public Investment Fund, and the DP World Tour continue to try to reach a deal that would potentially invest billions of dollars into the tour.

Right now, we know title sponsors are very concerned about their increased sponsorship fees. And so we have to keep an eye on this because obviously sponsorship is a key lifeblood to events and the tour. Let's move on. A big deal in the NASCAR world. For a team to get a big sponsor to come in and sponsor most of the races on its schedule is a huge accomplishment. And Dollar Tree came on as a major team sponsor with Jimmy Johnson's Legacy Motor Club with a rare 38-race deal that will stretch across the complete upcoming season. It's a three-year deal and you'll either see Dollar Tree or Family Dollar, one of those brands on cars for Legacy Motor Club. Such full of season deals in NASCAR, they have become incredibly rare. Here's what's interesting about the deal, okay. I know it's complicated but stay with me.

One of Dollar Tree's chief competitors, Dollar General, was in NASCAR for many years but then opted out after 2016. But its former CEO, Dollar General's former CEO now is the CEO of Dollar Tree. And his main goal was to get back into NASCAR. And this is the deal he wanted to do with Legacy Motor Club. He believes NASCAR will be a big driver of the Dollar Tree business. And so you'll see this deal start with the Busch Light Clash at the LA Coliseum on February 4th. Again, to get a full season deal like this with one major brand. Very rare in NASCAR, but I will say team sponsorships in NASCAR are surprisingly strong and it shows that the market for team sponsorships is more robust than it has been for many years. So congratulations to Legacy Motor Club and Dollar Tree for that deal.

Staying with Racing. The Superstar Racing Experience, which we have talked about on the Buzzcast. Well, it has suspended its plans for a 2024 season and is currently assessing its future. Remember SRX, Superstar Racing Experience was founded in 2020, ran its first season in '21. And it was aimed to be an all-star series bringing in drivers from different series and having them race in some smaller markets over the summer months. But viewership has dropped over the three seasons and SRX said it was postponing this fourth season and will look at other options to ensure the long-term viability of the series. Sources said that leadership wants to revive SRX if a viable path can be found. So the future of Superstar Racing Experience right now in question.

Let's shift to the NBA because the NBA has been in Paris this week. The Nets and Cavs played in front of more than 15,000 fans in Paris and it was a big, high-profile event with some tickets selling for over $1,000. Yes, over $1,000. So the NBA feeling very good about its interest in France. Yesterday was the 13th game, including preseason played in France. And this is an important market for the NBA, and it seems the league is really growing in popularity. Look at this data that the NBA provided USA Today. NBA League Pass subscriptions in the country up 26%. The average audience in France for NBA telecast up 23% over last year. And usage of the NBA app is up nearly 70% in terms of weekly viewers from France over last year. So the NBA obviously feeling very bullish about its business in France. Hence, you will see more games in Paris.

Meanwhile, The Athletic is reporting that the NBA will expand its draft. They will take the draft to two nights starting this year in Brooklyn. So the draft would split into the first and second rounds on successive nights. That'll be in late June. Obviously, the NBA is looking to amplify the importance, the appeal, the interest in the draft. And also, their media partners love two nights rather than just one night. So the NBA looking to expand its footprint around its draft.

And finally, we'll end with this. I know my inbox and I receive multiple texts about the story in The Athletic, not a good story for ESPN. As an investigation by the organization that administers the Emmy Awards uncovered that ESPN inserted fake names in Emmy entries to acquire more than 30 of those wonderful Emmy statues or trophies. And they would then give those trophies to on-air talent at ESPN that was ineligible to receive them. So ESPN, some people at ESPN, apparently took the awards that were not for real people and then gave them to on-air personalities. ESPN reportedly returned dozens of Emmy Awards and disciplined the employees who were behind this after they found that they submitted fake names to secure the trophies. This apparent scheme or fraud stretched back to 1997. ESPN acknowledged members of its team were clearly wrong for concocting the scheme. Bottom line, not a good look, not a good story for ESPN. And so that is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, January 12th. I'm Abe Madkour. Hope everybody enjoys wild card weekend. Stay healthy. Be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Monday.